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Highway 61 Film Festival

We’re very excited to announce that A Life Well Played has recently won 1st place in the Documentary Short category at the Highway 61 Film Festival. Located in Pine City, Minnesota, the multi-day event has taken place every October since 2011.

For those of you who may want to make the trip to Pine City to attend the festival and catch a viewing of the movie, here are the details.

A Life Well Played will be showing:

When: Sunday, October 9, program begins at 5:30 p.m. A Life Well Played will screen after 7pm.

Where: Pine Technical and Community College
900 Fourth Street SE, Pine City, MN 55063

Here is Sunday evening’s schedule:
Sunday, October 9, program begins at 5:30 p.m.

Letter to My Son
Director: Maurice Hicks • Drama Short • North Carolina • 10 min
A tired and worn would-be father pens a hypothetical detailing his perspectives and fears to his unborn son.
The Example
Director: Wyatt Cagle • Drama Short – First Place 2016 • Texas • 30 min
During a race riot in Beaumont, Texas in June 1943, worlds collide at a roadblock. Tensions explode on that hot summer night, forcing all involved to make decisions that will question their morals and loyalty.
Voices From Kaw Thoo Lei
Director: Martha Gorzycki • Made in Minnesota • 11 min
The Karen People of Burma, many of whom now live in Minnesota, believe no one hears their pleas for help as their country remains ravaged by a war that has lasted more than six decades.
The Hindu Thread
Director: Jennifer Higgins • Animation • Milwaukee • 3 min
One of the things that makes us human is our ability to tell stories. Eugene Burger narrates the Hindu creation myth. Brahma creates, Vishnu sustains, and Shiva destroys, but that is not the end.
Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco
Director: Leya Hale • Made in Minnesota • St. Paul • 27 min
Minnesotan American Indian communities are reclaiming traditional practices around Sacred Tobacco while educating their people on the growth of commercial tobacco’s frequent use in sacred traditions in order to untangle the two and promote a healthy lifestyle for future generations.
Split Costs
Director: Jeffrey Blake Palmer • Drama Short • Boston •24 min
Two young women from disparate backgrounds share a ride to western Massachusetts. A story of unexpected friends navigating life’s bumpy roads and moving forward with hope.
A Life Well Played
Director: Rene Erickson • Documentary Short – First Place 2016 • Inver Grove Heights • 30 min
What would it be like to do exactly what you wanted with your life?  Explore the life, music and motivation of eclectic guitarist and prolific composer Reynold Philipsek in this documentary portrait.

The Festival itself runs Thursday, October 6th through Sunday, October 9th, 2016. There are plenty of other great films to check out, too. Click here for a full list of scheduled films, along with when and where they’ll be playing.

Hope to see you there.



For some odd reason Autumn stirs deep memories in me. As of late I have thought a lot about my grandmother. She spoke very little English and always pronounced my name as “Ronyal”. She was a very tiny woman and a prolific rose gardener. Only now (alas, too late) do I realize what a unique link I had not only to the “old world” as a far away place but also to a person who was literally from the 19th century (she was born near Poznan, Poland on July 16,1884 and passed away near St. Cloud, Minnesota on May 22,1979).

She was very fond of wine and always made sure I had a small glass of red wine whenever we would visit her. She began offering me this glass of wine when I was quite young and my parents never objected. Maybe some of my “warm” memories are distilled by this custom. There is even a family rumor that she made bootleg Slivovitz during Prohibition.

I also fondly remember her wonderful raspberry candies. She concocted this confection from the raspberry crop she yielded each year. (there may have been a little wine or slivovitz in them but I am not sure).

So, for my entire life I have associated red roses, red wine and red raspberries with her. I also see her in my mind’s eye donning a long red winter coat and a yellow babushka.

“Babushka” has two meanings in Slavic culture. “Babushka” means grandmother and also refers to the headscarf worn by older women. In my case, the “babushka” reference held both meanings because my “Babushka” always wore one.


Click here to listen to: Babushka


(composed and performed by reynold d. philipsek
2016 copyright/zino-rephi music BMI)


among my favorite things

Among my favorite things are books and movies. I hold these two titles in especially high esteem.

The book “Minutes of the Last Meeting” by Gene Fowler is a first hand account of the weekly gathering of Hollywood artists such as W.C. Fields, John Barrymore and others at the home of painter John Decker in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. The now obscure bohemian poet Sadikichi Hartmann is really the focal point of the book. This sometimes rude but always urbane and witty group provide an entertaining look into that world and time. Fowler was one of the better writers of his era and this book about his friends and cohorts presents an honest portrait which is not blind to their faults. The book was published in 1954.

“The Duellists” is an early (1977) Ridley Scott film based on a Joseph Conrad short story. Set in the Napoleonic period the photographic beauty of the film rivals “Barry Lyndon” in my opinion. It is a great period film and there are great performances from what would seem an unlikely cast such as Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Robert Stephens and even a cameo by one of my favorite actors Albert Finney. The story is an amazingly poignant morality lesson and it is so well told that I never grow tired of it.


My Hobby

My hobby is and has been for some time to study the life and works of various concert pianists. Arthur Rubinstein is a favorite and his autobiography is wonderful. I also am interested in two pianists of the 20th century who passed away before their time. That is Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950) and William Kapell (1922-1953).

As of late I have been looking into the music and life of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995).
Michelangeli was a taciturn sort who disliked giving concerts. He was also a perfectionist who was rarely known to play a wrong note. Very interesting fellow. There are several Michelangeli performances to be seen on You Tube.

There are of course many more like Ignaz Friedman, Leopold Godowsky, Josef Hofmann, Rachmaninoff, Artur Schnabel, Samson Francois and others.

It always helps if I can read about the lives of these interpreters as well as listen to their archival recordings. In this way two books have been of great help. Those books are “Speaking of Pianists” by Abram Chasins and “The Great Pianists” by Harold C. Schoenberg.